The 1st January 2017 dawned in ominous circumstances for the paddlers and rowers hoping to continue their dominance over the sailors in the LBC’s traditional New Year’s Day Race around Peng Chau. A 20 knot easterly wind was blowing briskly, surely sinking the hearts of our members who rely on muscle rather than Nature to move their craft. The confident and upbeat demeanour of the assembled sailors contrasted markedly with the dejected faces of the rowers and paddlers – the latter sections knew that their time was up. Last year’s winner and this year’s race director, Peter Austin representing the Paddle Section, aware that the wind was due to die off later in the morning, desperately tried to delay the start citing all manor of reasons (“ but the paddlers just need to paint the canoe.”) or to change the course (“maybe we should stay in the bay?”)but to no avail. At 11.35am, the paddlers and sailors set off to duel it out whereas the rowers, sensibly, decided that racing in the bay was a far more prudent use of their time owing to the likely washing machine conditions east of Peng Chau.
Two six-seat Hawaiian-style canoes got off to a blistering start, heading out of the bay while the seven sailing craft were still tacking/gybing/zigzagging (I am not a sailor so unclear of the correct technical term) in a leisurely manner from one side to another. Could an upset be on the cards? Was the overconfidence of the sailors going to come back and bite them? Will they yet again be consigned to a supporting role while the rowers/paddlers partied on the clubhouse deck?
Nope. No chance. It was a false hope. When the sailors reached open water, they shot off at alarming speed and within 30 minutes the leaders reappeared, spinnakers billowing in an impressive display of superiority, skill, tactics (and not forgetting huge amounts of good fortune from Mother Nature). Jade Wallace and Steve her crew re-entered the bay followed in hot pursuit by Tom Nunan and his new crew member Mike. Those of us watching on the beach speculated about the atmosphere on Tom’s boat as he chased Steve down – was it cool, calm and calculating or a frenzied fury of rough language and shouting at Mike? I think we all know the answer to that question…
With only one gybe/tack/zig-zag to go, Steve and Jade overcooked it a little too far and Tom saw his chance. With scream of jubilation (we imagine) Tom threw his craft around and got his nose in front, crossing the finish line (actually, technically, not crossing it, but that is another story) a few seconds in front to the wild applause of the three people and someone’s dog watching on the beach.
As the canoes and remaining sailing craft straggled in, a feast was prepared at the clubhouse, a welcome respite from the arduous efforts of the previous hour. Inter-section rivalry was temporary halted as the assembled members congratulated the winners and applauded those who participated. Fantastic weather, close racing, delicious snacks and friendly company – an excellent way to start our new year.
- Tom and Mike – Sailing Section – 45M:26S
- Steve and Jade – Sailing Section – 45:45
- Six-seat Hawaiian canoe: Tim, Jill, Chris, Darit, Paula, Maaike – Paddling Section 55:29
- Six-seat Hawaiian canoe: Trisna, Stephane, Adriaan, Helga, Hans, Polly – Paddling Section – 59:49
- Ansgar and Frederique – Sailing Section – 1:00:49
- Andy and Olli – Sailing Section – 1:12:08
- Owen and Cho – Sailing Section – 1:14:15
- Ed and Betty – Sailing Section – 1:51:09
- Coastal Rowing Double: Sarit and Kish – Rowing Section – DNS
- Coastal Rowing Double: Bernard and Allan – Rowing Section – DNS
- Coastal Rowing Quad: Rachel, Zoe, Grace, Marianne, Geoff (cox) – Rowing Section – DNS
RACE DIRECTOR and SAFETY: Peter Austin
TIMEKEEPER AND STARTER: Marc Holm
GENERAL HELPERS: Ant Said and Maaike van Dijk, plus many others (thanks!)